Jones’ first-quarter TD enough as Wildcats earn first-round bye
DONELSON – When Ashton Jones found the end zone for Donelson Christian Academy in the first quarter on Friday, he had no idea his points would be enough to secure a region title.
Sure enough, his 2-yard run with 3:33 left in the opening frame held up as the game-winning score as the Wildcats defeated visiting Nashville Christian 7-3 to win the Middle Region title in Division II-Class A.
“We prepared well all week,” Jones said. “We had a lot of mistakes that almost hurt us in the end, but we believed we were the best team in this division since the summer, so we continue to prove that every week.”
Jones grinded out 108 yards on 26 carries on a night where field position played a critical role after rain earlier in the day left a soggy track at Ken Redmond Stadium. A consistent mist in the first half didn’t help things improve, either.
“We knew with the weather that we thought we might have to change a bit of what we thought we could do to stay in the game,” DCA head coach Paul Wade said. “It probably changed what they thought they could do, simply because they’re a run team first and had to come out and try to throw it. In this weather right here, this is not good throwing weather for teams that don’t normally do that.”
Jones’ scoring run was set up by Dayton Sneed’s one-handed catch of a Bradford Gaines pass for 33 yards, one of only two offensive plays DCA (9-1 overall, 5-0 Division II-A Middle Region) had that went over 20 yards.
“Old-time football,” Wade said. “I told the team at halftime that the first half lasted less than an hour. That’s the way I like it. It felt good.”
Early in the second quarter, DCA had a chance to go up by 10, but Braden Ducharme’s 22-yard field goal hit the right upright and bounced out. It turned out to be a mistake-filled period for both teams, as the teams combined for five turnovers in the second quarter.
The Eagles’ third turnover of the quarter may have hurt the worst, as they had the ball at DCA’s 13-yard line with 26 seconds remaining in the half before Tyler Morris’ pass was intercepted by Gunner Scheirling to preserve the Wildcats’ 7-0 lead at halftime.
“We did not prepare tonight the way we needed to prepare,” Nashville Christian head coach Jeff Brothers said. “(DCA) came out tonight and hit us right in the face with it, credit to them. They came with it hard, had a great plan and executed it, and we just didn’t respond.”
Nashville Christian’s special teams provided the only points for the Eagles as a 51-yard punt return by Deion King put the Eagles (8-2, 4-1) inside DCA’s 10-yard line. After the Wildcat defense held, Macy Crampton – who just a day earlier was playing for the Lady Eagles in the state soccer tournament in Chattanooga – kicked a 19-yard field goal to cut DCA’s lead to four points.
Nashville Christian head coach Jeff Brothers decided to get points from his reliable kicker and try to get another scoring drive later in the game instead of going for it on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line.
“We’re gonna have to score twice to win anyway,” Brothers said. “So, might as well get (points) there.”
DCA’s defense took care of the rest, holding Nashville Christian to a three-and-out on its next series and stopped the Eagles near midfield with 5:32 to play. After the Eagles punted, DCA’s offense ran the clock out to finish as region champions.
DCA held Nashville Christian to 68 rushing yards on 31 attempts. Deion King led the Eagles with 36 yards on 12 carries. Nashville Christian did not have an offensive play longer than 14 yards in the contest.
“We talk about expectations,” Wade said. “When you do something, you don’t need to be patted on the back and told ‘great job’ every play, because that’s the expectation. So, our expectation tonight was for (the defense) to play well.
“They played lights out, so they’ll be congratulated, but when your expectations from the previous games and our work ethic is to win, I told them they better act business-like when it’s over with, even when we win, because that’s what we expect them to do.”
Nashville Christian will host Lakeway Christian in the first round of the Division II-Class A playoffs next week, while DCA gets a first-round bye and will host either Tipton-Rosemark or Friendship Christian on Nov. 12.
DONELSON CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 7, NASHVILLE CHRISTIAN 3
|NCS (8-2, 4-1 Division II-A Middle), DCA (9-1, 5-0)||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||Final|
D – Ashton Jones 1 run, 3:33. Braden Ducharme kick.
N – Macy Crampton 19 field goal, 8:32.
|Pass Attempts-Completions- Interceptions||6-15-2||7-15-1|
|Punts – Average||5-34.2||3-38.3|
Nashville Christian: Deion King 12-36, Josh Strickland 9-22, Tyler Morris 7-10, Cameron Carden 1-6, Jamel King 1-(-5).
DCA: Ashton Jones 26-108, Bradford Gaines 3-12, Nathan Magalei 1-8, Cameron Booker 1-6, Brady Russell 2-5.
Nashville Christian: Morris 6-15-2 47.
DCA: Gaines 7-15-1 96.
Nashville Christian: Jaelyn Marsh 2-12, Donovan Smith 1-11, James Wambrod 1-10, D. King 1-8.
DCA: Dayton Sneed 2-44, Magalei 4-42, Jones 1-10.